TitleEarly predictors of first and fourth grade reading and math: The role of self-regulation and early literacy skills
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsBirgisdottir, F, Gestsdóttir, S, Geldhof, GJ
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Pagination507 - 519
Date Published07/2020


  • Pre-school literacy and self-regulation predict learning five years later
  • Pre-school self-regulation is more closely related to math than to reading
  • Early written language skills predict math, not phonological awareness


This study aimed to elucidate possible similarities and differences in early predictors of reading and math in First and Fourth Grade. Participants were 110 4-year-old Icelandic children (mean age 55.7 months, 49% girls) who were assessed on literacy and self-regulation in preschool and their performance related to their reading and math scores in Grades 1 and 4 (mean age 79.8 months and 122.2 months, respectively). The results revealed that basic reading skills in First Grade were predicted by domain-specific constructs related to preschool literacy, including phonological awareness and letter-knowledge, while First and Fourth Grade math, as well as Fourth Grade reading comprehension, was predicted by a wider constellation of skills, including self-regulation, early knowledge of written language and, in the case of reading comprehension, also phonological awareness. These results confirm previous findings indicating that self-regulation plays a stronger role in math than in reading at the beginning of formal schooling, but extends prior studies by linking preschool self-regulation to more advanced aspects of reading and math development in Fourth Grade. The findings also add to an emerging evidence that early written language skills, but not phonological awareness, are unique predictors of math. The instructional implications of these findings are discussed.

Short TitleEarly Childhood Research Quarterly